Michael Holmes
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‘Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way’
The Irish left and the crisis
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The Republic of Ireland was one of the countries worst hit by the global financial crisis and the ensuing Eurozone crisis. It was the first EU country to go into recession and the first to require a bailout, it was effectively under the control of the troika and endured austerity measures for several years. Even though the country officially emerged from bailout conditions at the end of 2013, and recorded the highest rate of growth among EU member states in subsequent years, the social costs still weigh heavily on the population and have created a greatly changed political context.

This chapter argues that the left has expanded significantly, but has done so in a fragmented way that will be difficult to sustain. And Europe has become an important line of division between the centre left and the radical left. The chapter begins with an overview of the crisis in Ireland. The focus is then on the programmatic and political responses of the Irish left. The crisis created an opportunity for the left, but there was no consistent left-wing response, and one of the major sources of disagreement among left parties is European integration. Finally, the chapter evaluates the Irish left in terms of votes, office and policies.

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